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We Need a Huge Public Enterprise Sector

Time to Design a New Economy

By Stanley Heller
(published on Counterpunch Oct. 8, 2008)

Enough with criticizing Wall St and making suggestions on how to patch it up! The system has cracked wide open and we shouldn’t waste time inventing methods for putting Humpty Dumpty together again. We need to construct alternative ways of living. We need radical plans for a new way of guaranteeing the collective welfare of humanity and we need them in a form easily understandable to the hundreds of millions worldwide who will be impoverished and enraged by the ongoing collapse.

I don’t have the answers, but I’ll dare to suggest certain principles in thinking and action.

1. Reject the notion that the crisis is all the fault of “liberals” who forced, forced banks into lending money to poor people for mortgages. This idiocy is the line presented by the blowhard Rush Limbaugh and others. Nobody pushed around the billionaire titans of Wall Street. Clinton-Gore bent over double for them. And the crisis wasn’t caused by a sudden fit of “greed” either. In our business world you go for maximum profit 24/7 or you’re out on your keester.

2. Reject the notion that there’s a shadowy world of finance separate from the good old real economy. They are intertwined. The so-called financial crisis is a crisis of the whole international business economy. What the hell is this stuff about “Wall St.” vs. “Main St.” anyway? Who shops on Main St.? Main St. was Wallmarted out of existence years ago.

3. Realize that this country has the ability to raise massive amounts of money. If it can raise a trillion to bail out Wall Street and trillions to murder Iraqis it can raise enormous sums to reshape the economy and the health care system.

4. It is madness for the government to take over dead corporations and toxic securities. Instead it should seize whatever banks it needs and directly lend money to companies who make real products or provide services to clean up and conserve the planet.

5. The prime reason the corporate chiefs resorted to paper schemes to enrich themselves is because they were so successful in keeping wages down. To keep up buying power they got Americans to work more and more hours and take on more and more debt. That couldn’t go on forever so Wall Street went gaga producing financial paper. It blew bubble after bubble declaring them to be 100 carat diamonds. The real way to guarantee buying power is to guarantee decent wages. To do that the government has to create a huge public enterprise sector, businesses collectively owned by their employees.

6. We can no longer afford a medical system in this country lorded over by the medical insurance corporations. The waste is too damned expensive. Single-payer universal health care is an immediate economic necessity.

7. We can’t afford imperial wars. We have to bring all the troops home now. Most of our terrorist problem is caused by our insatiable meddling and stealing of resources. The rest of the problem can be dealt with by intelligent police work and military measures within our borders.

8. The idea that people are going to finance their retirement with corporate paper was a monumentally bad idea. Fixing social security, making it universal and greatly expanding its payments should be a no-brainer.

9. We should have a moratorium on home foreclosures for some set time until citizen committees can determine if the overwhelmed debtor is a person trying to hang on to his/her modest house or a speculator who ran into hot water while trying to flip real estate.

10. We cannot consume fossil fuels and other resources on the current American scale. It’s not just a matter of developing new fuels. Global warming is real. We have to think up ways of living smaller and closer to home.

11. We in no way want to repeat the tyranny and exploitation that went down under the name of “Communism”. We’re in a new century. Let’s use computers, the internet and trade unions to radically expand the scope of democracy by bringing it into the world of business.

12. Understand that we’re going to have to go out in the streets and raise some major hell to get anything at all accomplished.

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Stanley Heller is moderator of Economic Uprising. To get in touch use contact (at) EconomicUprising.com   He tweets @ZatarStan

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